UK 3D printing firm Scaled Ltd has unveiled the Chameleon, an electric four-wheel, 3D printed vehicle capable of 45mph and claimed to be the first of its kind in Europe.
Project Chameleon was started by Swindon-based Scaled during lockdown to demonstrate how a fully driving vehicle could be designed and manufactured in a few months using 3D printing.
The company produced Chameleon with a synonymous production platform that includes the software toolchain, manufacturing processes, supply chain and 3D printing systems, which were developed in-house.
Bob Bradley, Co-founder and Technical Director of the firm explained that when the company first started there were no suitable 3D printing machines on the market.
“There was the Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine that was marketed by Cincinnati over in the States, but it’s a giant and had a £1m price tag,” he said. “We did actually start seeking investment on the basis that we would acquire one, but it ended up that using a robot rig and our own in-house gantry systems was a much more sensible option.”
Chameleon’s 3D printed plastic chassis was optimised with Raﬁnex’s stochastic software which tests random variations in loading conditions before delivering a ﬁnal optimised structural design.
PA6 3D printing materials supplied by Lehvoss Group ensured that the vehicle would be strong enough to take the loads during driving. The non-3D printed parts of the vehicle were designed with help from students who are members of Birmingham University’s Racing Team.
“Thirty-three per cent of the vehicle included a recycled PA6 from a UK firm, Hills Premier Polymers,” said Bradley. “In the future it will definitely be possible to up the amount of circular plastics in use for this type of thing – something we are very excited about.”
The vehicle is powered by a Lynch electric motor and has an overall weight of 150kg.
Scaled was founded at the end of 2015 with the aim of providing the UK market with access to large scale 3D printing. Since then the company has built three large scale production systems, including one using a robotic arm which can print up to 3m in length.